James “Tex” Lucas – Bank Robber & Car Thief

James C. “Tex” Lucas was a bank robber and car thief who attempted to escape from Alcatraz prison in California.

Lucas was originally sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for bank robbery and interstate trafficking of stolen vehicles, he arrived at Alcatraz in January 1935 from the Texas State Prison. In Alcatraz, he was called “Texas Bank Robber” Lucas. He is best known for attacking Al Capone in the prison’s laundry room on June 23, 1936. While Capone was working in the laundry area about ten feet away from Lucas, the former bank robber stabbed Capone in the back with a pair of shears from the prison barbershop. Capone defended himself by punching Lucas in the jaw before prison guards broke up the pair. Capone was able to walk to the prison hospital, and the following day, he resumed his regular duties at Alcatraz Prison. Meanwhile, Lucas was sent to solitary confinement.

In the spring of 1938, Lucas, along with Whitney Franklin, another former bank robber, and Thomas Limmerick, a kidnapper, planned their escape from Alcatraz. On May 23, 1938, they enacted their plan, beating a custodial worker named Royal Cline over the head with a hammer and rendering him unconscious. They then went to the roof, where an armed guard shot Lucas’s accomplices. Within no time, more guards arrived, and Lucas was cornered. Cline, the custodial worker, died of his injuries the next day. Limmerick, who had been shot in the head, also died. Rufus Franklin recovered from a gunshot in the shoulder, and he and Lucas were tried for the murder of Cline and sentenced to life imprisonment.


© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2022.

Also See:

20th Century History

Barker-Karpis Gang

The FBI and the American Gangster

Gangsters, Mobsters & Outlaws of the 20th Century